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Keeping active during the coronavirus outbreak

We know that spending this much time at home can be very stressful and frustrating for you and your family. But there are some good ways to help keep everyone at home upbeat and healthy.

A little physical activity can go a long way in helping everyone’s physical and mental wellbeing. As an added bonus, it will also help use up some of that extra energy your kids might be building up.

Staying active indoors

Getting active outdoors is as important as ever for our physical and mental wellbeing. But spending more time indoors doesn’t mean you have to sit still either. There are lots of ways to make sure you’re staying active. You can create a whole range of indoor activities using things you already have at home. Screen time can even help you get active. We’ve put together a list of handy tips for making sure everyone in your home is keeping active during this difficult time but really, there’s no end to the things you can get up to.

Tips for staying active indoors

Tip #1: Screen time shenanigans

Screen time can be a useful tool in keeping active. There are lots of things online for children and parent of all ages. Here are just a few of our favourites:

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Tip #2: Obstacle course

Why not grab some bits and pieces around the house and create your own mini obstacle course? It doesn’t need to be fancy, just set out some things they can run around, jump over or throw. You could even get creative and make some medals for the winners.

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Tip #3: Slam dunk

Grab some bowls or cups and place them around the room, then get some balls to use – scrunch up some paper if you need to – and challenge your kid to get a ball into each cup. You can make it trickier by asking them to step further and further away from the bowls.

Mix it up a little by writing a letter on a piece of paper and placing it in each cup. Once the ball has landed in the cup the letter can be removed, the challenge is to get all the letters and make up the hidden word.

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Tip #4: Tall tower

Who can build the tallest tower? Find something stackable in your house: wooden blocks, Lego, cereal boxes or even your sofa cushions. Just let them take turns each to see who builds the tallest tower. See how high their imagination takes them.

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Tip #5: Balloon balls

The last thing you need to be doing is looking out for breakables when balls are flying round the house. Why not use balloons instead? Blow up a balloon and use it as a substitute for all ball activities. Can you header it back and forth? Or why not tie a bit of string to two chairs and have a game of house volleyball? There are endless ways to have fun with balloons indoors.

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Tip #6: Make a maze

If you have a hallway why not turn this into a maze? Using string, tape or items of clothing. Just tie things at different heights and challenge your kid to get through without touching anything.

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Tip #7: Circuits

Make your very own circuit class for your family. Take a few sheets of paper, write a different activity on each one and place them around the room. The idea is that everyone does the activity for a set amount of time, then you all move on to the next one.

Try to make the activity and times relevant to your family, and their ability. Tasks could be as simple as 5 jumps, 5 hops, 5 star jumps to 2 minutes of sit ups, 2 minutes of planking and 2 minutes of running on the spot.

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Tip #8: Animal races

Run like a cheetah, jump like a frog, waddle like a penguin or slither like a snake. Why not have fun taking turns at choosing an animal and deciding the action that goes along with this? To make this even more fun, why not make the noises of your animal – ribbit!

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Tip #9: Scavenger hunt

Hide items around your house for the kids to find. The more difficult you make it the more energy they will use up finding the items. Putting items at different heights can get little bodies jumping and squatting their way around the house in no time.

To make this even more fun, you could even try to leave clues to where things are hiding and offer a reward if they can find all the items in a given time.

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Tip #10: Hobbies at home

Think about what your child is interested in, or classes they usually go to, and see if you can recreate some of it at home. For example, for a budding gymnast could you create a beam to practise balancing on at home? This could be as simple as a line of tape across the floor so they can practise walking in a very straight line.

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Tip #11: Clean up race

Set a timer and see if your kids can tidy away all their toys before the timer goes off. Something to get their heart rates up, and give you a helping hand too. Win – win.

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Tip #12: Dance, dance, dance

To lift everyone’s mood, put your favourite music on and dance, dance, dance!

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Worried about disturbing the neighbours?

Difficult times like this can bring communities together, and because you've been spending more time at home, you may be seeing more of your neighbours than you used to. And they may be hearing more from you!

If you’re worried about disturbing the people around you, it’s best to tackle it head on and talk to them. They can’t expect your children to be silent all the time, so try and reach a compromise so that you don’t disturb them at certain times of day, for example, when they’re trying to sleep or have important work calls.

Kids always fighting?

If they’re fighting with their brothers or sisters, check out our page on managing multiple children for some tips on keeping the peace. Our page on activities for multiple children also has ideas for ways to keep the busy!

Tips for older children

Getting older kids active may not be so easy if they’re determined to stay stuck to their screens! To motivate them, suggest activities that they’re likely to enjoy or be good at, and let them choose how and when they exercise, so they feel they’re in control of the situation. But these ideas aren’t just for the kids – adults can join in too!

Exercise tips for older children

Tip #1: Clear the mind with yoga

Yoga is not only a great way of stretching out and getting fit, it’s good for the mind too. You don’t need any fancy equipment – just a space on the floor and some comfy clothes. There are loads of free classes available on YouTube and lots of different styles of yoga to try. Yoga instructor Adriene has a good video for teens – have a go as a family or let the kids find their own style.

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Tip #2: Make an action movie

Got a phone? Then they can make a movie! And as the point of this is to get exercise, the more action the better! While James Bond-style stunts may not be the safest idea, how about making a training montage, Rocky style? Put on a hoodie, crank up the music and get them running up and down the stairs, having a go at press ups and sit ups and punching those cushions.

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Tip #3: Learn to juggle

Juggling is great for eye-hand co-ordination and is good exercise too – especially at the beginning, when you spend more time picking up balls from the floor than keeping them in the air! Check YouTube for free tutorials and have a go.

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Tip #4: Skip to get fit

If you have the space and a rope, skipping is a brilliant way for everyone to burn up energy. It’s not just for little kids in the playground – it’s a favourite exercise of boxers and many other athletes. Another move for the training montage, maybe?

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Tip #5: Learn some new dance moves

To get the kids off the sofa and onto their feet, how about getting them to try an online dance class? Y-Dance offers classes in jazz and fun and funky commercial dance, while budding Billy Elliots can check out these classes from Scottish Ballet

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Exercising outside during the coronavirus outbreak

You and your family can go outside together, individually, or with another household, as long as you are all symptom free. Local walks, runs, or bike rides as a family, individually or with friends are great ways to keep active. Just make sure you maintain physical distancing and wash your hands on your return. You can find information on the latest guidance around meeting up with other households and physical distancing for children here.

You can find more ideas for outdoor games here, while our page on sport, play and children's activities has more information on activities run by clubs and other organisations.

We know this situation is difficult, but it’s not forever. And remember that following these rules will save lives.


Can we take the kids to a play park?

Play parks can now reopen. Our page on sport, play and children's activities has tips on how to use play parks safely.